Tuesday, September 8, 2015

At the Hop

Excavated hole for Hopkins foundation with sign announcing its constructionEvery day, the Dartmouth Coach enters the small town of Hanover and pulls up in front of the Hopkins Center. I remember stepping down the short bus steps and looking around the Dartmouth campus for the first time. As I gazed at its scenic landscape, I obtained a sense of the history that took place here. Across the green from where I stood is Rauner Special Collection Library. Inside, one can find endless documents on the history of Dartmouth College, starting from its origins up to the present day. The evolution of Dartmouth’s campus and its buildings represents the numerous different time periods this College has experienced. Altering one space on this historic campus can change Dartmouth’s “feel”. Until I researched the changes of Dartmouth’s physical plant during World War I for a history class, little did I know that the place I first pulled up to, Hopkins Center, was one of the most controversial buildings to be built.

interior construction shot looking out through the Top of the Hop window openings.As one can see from the photos accompanying this post, the Hopkins Center has a different style of architecture than the rest of the campus. In the late 1920s, Dartmouth College’s Advisory Committee on Plant Development created a plan for constructing a new social center. However, the College needed to overcome some challenges before the plans for the building could be approved. In the late 1950s, the Board of Trustees and Dartmouth community as a whole felt that Georgian architecture was out of style and was no longer suited for its campus. The Advisory Committee on Plant Development asked Wallace Harrison to develop a design for this new social center. Harrison’s design was modern, which resulted in countless debates if this was the direction Dartmouth College wanted to go. The location for the Hopkins Center was another massive issue that resulted in delayed approval, given that the Hanover Green was a highly desirable location in town. However, after many years, the development plans for Hopkins Center were approved and the facility was built in 1961.

bird's eye view of Hopkins Center and surrounding buildings. The Hopkins Center has become one of the key buildings on this campus. It has awakened students' interests in the art community and provides an educational environment that allows students' creativity and passion for art to explode. Information on this building is just a small fraction of the historical documents that the Rauner Library collections contain about Dartmouth’s campus.

For more information on Dartmouth’s historical campus, go to Rauner Library and look at Dartmouth College Historical Evolution and Preservation:Strategies for the Landscape(D. C. Hist LD1422.9 .D334 1996). To see more great photos of the Hopkins Center, and other buildings on the Dartmouth College campus, browse the images in our Photographic Files and Photographic Records collections, many of which are available for free download online.

Posted for Danny McManus '17, HIST 62 class.

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